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How to accomodate Tim and two strikers

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Since Cahill Tim has been at the Asian Cup, and Moyes' decision to go with 2 out and out strikers (and our up-turn in form), there has been continued debate on this site as to what we should do when Tim returns.

I don't think anyone can doubt Tim's importance to our team, his goals return is phenomenal, his work rate second to none, and he winds the opposition up brilliantly. Without being exactly a world class player, and certainly less skillful and gifted than one or two of our other players, he has become our most important players.

But, despite his g oals this season, I think most of us would agree that our 4-5-1 system which accomodates him has pretty much been found out by other teams. I also think most of us have really liked seeing us play with two strikers.

So, what do we do when Tim returns? Keep him on the bench, use him in a four man midfield, or revert to type? I was giving this some thought, and i think there is an alternative. Basically, i think an option worth considering is switching to the 3-5-2 formation.

I realise this is a set-up which has a lot of critics, and is one that is rarely used in England, but i think we have the personnel to make it work. with Heitinger, Jags and Distin across the back, Seamus and Bainsy as the wing backs, Fellaini and Arteta in the middle as they have been, and Tim playing his usual role, but this time behind Beckford and Saha/Vic/Whoever. I know this formation has its shortcomings, but I think we'd have a very solid spine with Fellaini in front of three very good defenders, who would balance very well, and Seamus and Baines I think are tailor made for the wing back roles.

Tim would have the freedom to do his usual job of getting stuck in in midfeild, and bursting into the opposition box. He certainly works best breaking from midfield rather than being used as a striker, which frankly just seems desperate. With the pace of someone like beckford and the class of an in form Saha, or the power of Anichebe and the brilliantly timed late runs of Tim we'd have a lot of threat going forward, especially with the deliveries of Baines and Coleman's ability to get to the line.

Fellaini would have to be extra discplined to protect the back four when Baines and Coleman burst forward, but I think he's easily up to the job, and once Mikky gets back in form he can pull the strings in the middle. An advantage of the particular personnel in the line up is that, if things aren't going well we can easily switch to a 4-4-2 formation, with Heitinga, Jags, Distin and Baines across the back, and Seamus, Tim, Fellaini and Arteta across the middle, with of course the added options of changes from the bench.

I'm not 100% convinced this change would work. I can't think of an English team who play this way, and i doubt Moyes has much experience of coaching it, and everbody involved would have to be extremely well drilled, but I think it potentially offers a solution to a quandry Moyes will certainly face when Tim returns.
Nathan  O'Hagan, Northamptonshire     Posted 21/01/2011 at 22:50:32

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Eric Myles
1   Posted 22/01/2011 at 01:13:55

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After having 4-4-2 forced on him by default I don't think Davey is going to suddenly go all adventurous on us and try different formations.
Gavin Wadeson
2   Posted 22/01/2011 at 01:10:54

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....could this be the reason why Moyes has continually refused to buy out-and-out wingers? A ten-year masterplan to build a team with a 3-5-2 formation! By blooding Coleman, and selling Pienaar, he's SLOWLY getting there...
Nick Entwistle
3   Posted 22/01/2011 at 01:20:28

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My tactical nous isn't great, however you say this isn't used much in England, well its not much used anywhere any more.
A back 3 is no good when the opposition use one forward, leaving two extra men who can push back the two wing backs, leaving their full backs to supplement the midfield. No go...

Kristian Boyce
4   Posted 22/01/2011 at 05:12:51

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The 3-5-2 was the 4-5-1 of the 90's. I remember Venables famously using it with his England teams. If I recall correctly we also played with it for a while too, with Hinchcliffe as one of the wingbacks. As soon as Cahill returns we'll switch back to the 4-5-1. Moyes has built his team around him with this formation, and as long as he's still playing, we'll play a 4-5-1. As much as he is a great player, he doesn't fit into our 442. He's not going to displace Arteta or Felliani in the center, and he's definitely not a winger. He's also proved that he's not an out an out striker as well. So its 4-5-1 then, to fit him in.
Martin Faulkner
5   Posted 22/01/2011 at 06:36:48

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3-5-2 will never work in today's form of modern football, it's a 20 year old tactic from the late 80's and early 90's.
We'd get crucified down the flanks with balls in behind the wingbacks.
I don't know of any teams in the top leagues in europe that play it anymore.
Everything is either 451, 442 or 433 nowadays.
Tony Cheek
6   Posted 22/01/2011 at 07:40:48

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4-4-2 with Cahill and Beckford up front, whats so difficult?
Dave Wilson
7   Posted 22/01/2011 at 07:58:31

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Tim should only be considered for a start if our form dips again. He chose his country over his club, thats his perogative, but if the improvement we have seen since his departure continues, then he should be made to wait and fight for his position again

Thats fair, isnt it ?
Christopher McCullough
8   Posted 22/01/2011 at 08:25:41

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I think this is an excellent, well thought out article.

You say, as if it's a drawback, that no other teams play this way. I would argue that it's a positive factor. Play to your strenghts!

As for the problem of three centre backs defending one forward. Firstly, a lot of teams have now abandoned 4-5-1, with success. Secondly, Heitinga's strength, in comparison to the other two, is his distribution. He can also carry the ball into midfield, although he is not a midfielder. He. or Rodwell, could maximise the extra space while helping Fellaini to deal with the opposition's attacking strenghts.

Good post.
Derek Thomas
9   Posted 22/01/2011 at 10:22:05

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Nick #3 sorry not so, the whole point of wingbacks and 451, 442, 424 etc is that they are supposed to be run in a flexible manner and when they go forward the wingbacks are 'wingers' and when we are defending the revert to full backs and you have FIVE at the back.

Back to the main point Tim and the 451 thing. If Arteta continues to stink the place out then, Tim is in in his place, and the 442 can go on to glory ( or not )

But like it or not the EPL has changed, the old 451 dial up version has gone and the broadband more flexible attacking version is here.
Nick Entwistle
10   Posted 22/01/2011 at 10:45:44

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That's what they're there to do Derek, but its how easily countered that has seen their decline.
Derek Thomas
11   Posted 22/01/2011 at 10:39:37

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I have been banging on for 3 at the back since Lescott came and showed he could play on the left.

All we needed was another Baines on the right, well we got Coleman and now we need both a Pienaar on the left AND on the right. 2 steps forward and 1 back.

But hey ho, if Moyes is prepared to base his whole team around ONE player eg Cahill.

Now we have 2 wingbacks that 'could' make 352 work maybe he will base it on them.

Yeah right.
James Stewart
12   Posted 22/01/2011 at 11:33:04

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We dont have 2 strikers at the club anyway!
Steve Mink
13   Posted 22/01/2011 at 11:43:36

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I'm no tactical guru, but the better side these days all seem to play something like:

- only one obvious attacker
- three other players who are attacking-minded and good on the ball, interchange positions, and who can get into scoring postions
- two midfield player who keep some positional discipline and who can drop back particularly when the full-backs are attacking
- full-backs who can play

If you accept that my view is that Everton have a surfeit of good 'sitting midlfielders', a good attacking midfielder in Cahill, but no-one to play outside of them.

David Powell
14   Posted 22/01/2011 at 12:33:01

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I totally agree with Christine 8 and i would have no problem playing Rodwell in the back three. I think it is a far better balanced team with width from Baines and Coleman secure in the knowledge they have cover behind them and as stated Fellaini could easily play in a more withdrawn role.
All the Moyes out brigade on here one of the biggest criticisms is not playing the best players in their best positions well this looks to me set up with our best players all in their best positions.
Tony 6 playing Cahill up front 442 would just become 451 when he retreats to mid field leaving the other striker isolated.
great post Nathan
Sam Hoare
15   Posted 22/01/2011 at 12:42:51

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You're absolutely right that we have tailor made team for it.

However i share the fear that its a problematic formation. Which is why its so rarely used by any top teams nowadays.

Also, i think we all know there is about as much chance of Moyesy trying a radical new formation as there is of us snapping up Lionel Messi in a £100m transfer deadline day shock of all shocks.

The Cahill conundrum will be an interesting one. Personally i think it may ironically be best for the team at the moment if despite being one of our best players, he is used as an impact sub. The mobility that 2 out and out strikers gives us makes us look so much more fluent and is why we have scored 9 goals in our last 3 games. If we are defending bring him on for a striker to go 451 if we are attacking bring him on for a defender or midfielder to give us another attacking option.
Neil Vaughan
16   Posted 22/01/2011 at 14:13:39

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How to accomodate Tim and TWO strikers....Get a manager who is not scared and tries to play attacking football...easy !!
James Hollister
17   Posted 22/01/2011 at 17:57:21

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t will end 4-5-1 and we'll spend the rest of this season defending everything just for survival. It makes me absolutely sick to my stomach. :(
Derek Thomas
18   Posted 23/01/2011 at 06:57:00

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It worked for 2 games with Saha and Beckford.

But the cynical conspirisist in me might believe that Moyes is deliberately fucking it up to justify putting Tim right back in.

It's all water under the bridge now but Baines and Pienaar played like 2 and a half men, but Baines and Osman like one and a half.
Andrew Lawrenson
19   Posted 23/01/2011 at 19:04:49

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Might as well play 1-1-8, bring in Mike Basset.

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